the liver and the brain

r norman rsn_ at _comcast.net
Wed Sep 1 11:28:58 EST 2004

On Wed, 1 Sep 2004 18:01:02 +0200, "JPL Verhey"
<matterDELminds at hotmail.com> wrote:

>"r norman" <rsn_ at _comcast.net> wrote in message
>news:t6rbj09oa38srf7at60n2ds566tug2vodn at 4ax.com...
>> On 1 Sep 2004 07:06:06 -0700, rscanlon at nycap.rr.com (ray scanlon)
>> wrote:
>> >No! Let's not. The subject is the brain, not operant behavior. The
>> >subject is motor program generators. The DNA provides the generators;
>> >we hear them when the infant babbles.
>> >
>> This is a fine example of the problem I wrote about in another posting
>> on this thread.  I did agree that it is quite likely that there are
>> genetically programmed circuits in the human brain that you call
>> "motor program generators" and that you claim "DNA provides".  Fine,
>> lets not quibble about these details.
>> However I also said that "There are enormous technical problems in
>> trying to determine to what extent, if any, that any specific
>> behavioral act in humans is controlled by or even initially produced
>> by the genetically determined systems you describe".  Now you make an
>> enormous leap to simply declare that infant babbling is an example of
>> just such a thing. You have absolutely no experimental evidence to
>> indicate that this is true.
>I think might give a clue:
> http://www.edge.org/documents/ThirdCulture/u-Ch.13.html

Consistent with what I said, the general phenomenon of language
strongly suggests that some genetically programmed structures are
likely involved. What is not at all clear is that any specific motor
act results from genetically determined motor program generators.
There is a difference between having an innate language ability and
the ability to speak a specific language, which obviously has an
enormous learned component.  There is a difference between having some
vague innate motor capabilities and the ability to produce specific
motor acts which may well have enormous learned components.  

The question is, are the specific neural circuits that produce infant
babbling almost completely genetically determined or does learning and
practice and use, all of which result in synaptic plasticity changes,
play a major part in producing the functional circuits?  I do not know
the answer.  Unless Ray Scanlon has any evidence one way or the other,
he should refrain from making unjustified assumptions.

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